ASTRA Central and Eastern European Women’s Network for Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Health

Feb 08 2016

The European Union (EU), in September 2015, following the UK, acknowledged that female war rape victims' rights to medical care under the Geneva Conventions include abortion, irrespective of any restrictive abortion laws in war zones. Following this, the newly approved 2016 budget requires that EU humanitarian aid be provided "in accordance with international humanitarian law," and without "discrimination or adverse distinction." And, in a reference to the US Helms amendment, the budget mandates EU funds "not be subject to restrictions imposed by other partner donors."

"Sexual violence is a devastating weapon in the war-torn areas, these women and girls are war wounded and should be treated equally," said Sophie in 't Veld (Member of European Parliament, Netherlands, ALDE/ D66), during a speech on this budget language. "The EU is taking steps to ensure that EU humanitarian aid funds are not tainted by other donor countries - to force a girl enslaved by ISIS, kidnapped by Boko Haram or raped in the DRC to bear a child of her rapist, who may be, as a result, expelled from the community and condemned to poverty, is inhumane treatment."

Feb 08 2016

In a landmark case, Peru has compensated a woman for denying her a medically indicated abortion. In 2001, K.L. was a 17-year-old who was diagnosed as having a fetus with anencephaly at 14 weeks' gestation. As described below, this fetal anomaly is routinely lethal. Although abortion was legal in Peru in this circumstance, a hospital director refused her request for an abortion. She was forced to continue her pregnancy and deliver the doomed fetus, which survived only four days. Working with human rights lawyers, K.L. filed a complaint with the United Nations Human Rights Committee, based in Geneva. In 2005, the Committee concluded that Peru had violated several articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and it ordered financial compensation to K.L. Fifteen years after the incident, reparations were finally made for Peru's "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment." This marked the first time a United Nations Committee had held a country accountable for failing to ensure access to safe, legal abortion.

Source: Huffington Post

Feb 05 2016

Three respected physicians, MD Dubravko Lepusic, MD Jasenka Grujic-Koracin and MD Gorjana Gjuric, whose Initiative for regulation of conscientious objection raised a public debate, explained their position on demanding that government-funded hospitals shouldn't employ doctors who refuse do to various medical procedures on the grounds of religious beliefs. 

Hospital, as a public institution that is funded by public money, has to secure the right of a woman to have an abortion. That is, and there should be no compromise on that certain issue. There are legal frames that guarantee that right. There are articles, in particular laws that also guarantee a right for a physician to practice conscientious objection, but that does not mean they are allowed not to put patients' needs first.

"It doesn't function in Croatia. Every doctor with conscientious objection, like those who work in the "Holy Spirit" hospital, which are massively refusing to do abortions, should work in a confessional hospital that should be funded by the Church. That's why we are demanding that confessional hospitals get established and that the institutional right for conscientious objection in public hospitals gets shut down, including pharmacy and transfusion medicine. It's a physician's obligation to provide services based on science, and not the religious dogma." - That's how the MD Jasenka Grujic-Koracin announces the initiative for the establishment of confessional hospitals, as just one of the series of projects the "Initiative of doctors for the regulation of conscientious objection in medicine" will pull off. The Initiative was presented to the public during the roundtable they've organized together with Center for education, counseling and research from Zagreb.

Jan 05 2016

The president of Croatia's constitutional court, Jasna Omejec, announced the start of a constitutional review of the law on medical measures, which allow abortion until the 10th week of pregnancy. The review will most likely happen by June 2016.

The proposal of the Croatian Movement for Life and Family was filed 24 years ago, to institute proceedings to review the constitutionality of the law which allows abortion. The founder of this socially conservative Christian NGO, Ruzica Cavar, “thanked God for the willingness of the constitutional court to deal with the issue. I almost lost all hope, after more than 20 years when nothing was happening. The only thing the court did until now was to send an inquiry to a team of medical experts in 2009,” she said. According to her, the experts had agreed that “life begins with conception”, which she said worked in favour of her application. Legalized abortion was “unjust from a number of perspectives”, she said, as it breached article 21 of the constitution, which says that “every human being has a right to life”.

Only recently the President of HDZ's Health Committee and the leading candidate for new Croatian health minister Ante Ćorušić talked about abortion at a radio broadcast claiming that "human life begins when male and female gametes combine. Abortion is an agreed form of violent interruption of human life. That is the only truth. However, absolute prohibition is out of the question.” Speaking in some earlier interviews, Ćorušić said that he liked the Polish model where abortion is legal with considerable limitations stipulated by law. "We will definitely change the law on abortion from 1978. Modern Croatia must not and cannot be subject to a law adopted during the totalitarian regime. We will give women a week to once again think about their decision, with the help of experts, gynaecologists and psychologists", Ćorušić said.

Croatia, mainly Catholic country, inherited the law of 1978 from communist Yugoslavia. According to the World Health Organization, there were 85 abortions for every 1,000 births in Croatia in 2012, compared to an EU average of 216.

Sources: Total Croatia News, Total Croatian News, Balkan Insight

Dec 16 2015

WHO launched a new comprehensive analysis of global health trends since 2000 and an assessment of the challenges for the next 15 years.

"Health in 2015: from MDGs to SDGs" identifies the key drivers of progress in health under the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It lays out actions that countries and the international community should prioritize to achieve the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which come into effect on 1 January 2016.

The 17 SDGs are broader and more ambitious than the MDGs, presenting an agenda that is relevant to all people in all countries to ensure that "no one is left behind." The new agenda requires that all 3 dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental – are addressed in an integrated manner.

Access the report here:

"Health in 2015: from MDGs to SDGs"


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